The CAT 2016 season is about to start and many of you might be looking at full time prep options. Many ignore the advice dished out by saner minds and fall into traps thereby causing irreparable damage to their careers. This is a post that is a mandatory checklist before you fall for the marketing gimmicks of ‘expert’ coaches and ‘serial toppers’.
To start with a short disclaimer, I am not condemning anyone who promotes their products/services. Being a marketing graduate from one of the premier b-schools in the country I completely understand the need to market one’s products. Even we do it. But there is a big, fat line between promoting yourself by speaking the truth and making false claims while trying to trap gullible aspirants into making rash decisions. I am also aware of the fact that best/experienced/topper are subjective terms but trust me, I have seen enough of this ‘industry’ to understand the difference between good and bad. You are welcome to disagree and go ahead with your choice and I wish you all the best for your prep. If you are a fan of any of these institutes or such practices, you have the choice to quit reading right away.
“50 of our students scored a 100 %ile and another 50,000 scored more than the 99th percentile” shouteth a bill board welcoming you to their Jhumri Talaiya branch!
Now, there are two responses that this board gets generally: ‘Wow’ and ‘W%&’. Now, there is hardly any correlation (with due respect to the advertisers) between having so many 100%ilers’ pics adjacent to each other and you becoming one of them 10 months later. As a 100%iler (and as someone who has been featured on such boards. Yeah! Go ahead. Laugh) I can tell you confidently that IT DOESN’T MATTER if you have taken coaching or not. Anyone who has a good amount of aptitude and can channel his/her abilities to give his/her best shot at CAT stands a fair chance of scoring a 100. You need not solve curated tests or 200 mocks to get a 100. All you need is belief, perseverance and self-knowledge. And I am pretty sure any of the faces on those bill boards would not instill that in you (You are pretty much going in the wrong direction if you are of the opinion that: If s/he can, I can too)
PS: Jhumri Talaiya branch has had a severe faculty crunch since the last half-decent faculty went to pursue his MBA from IIM-JT. If you are expecting that they will teach you Chinese and Japanese and Malaysian remainder theorems, joke’s on you! Ha!
There is an easy way out of this. Get an understanding of the basic CAT syllabus that you need to cover if you intend to score a 95+ percentile and ask your front desk friend about how exactly the institute intends to cover that. Beware of the calendars that run into deep October and stay away from such institutes. You need a solid month to figure out your final strategy and polish your prep edges.
Also, ask for a demo class and interact with the faculty before you pay your hard earned money to the institute. A lot of people look at boards and stickers that have been shipped from the home office and enroll into a lesser branch. Weak or temporary faculty members, improper scheduling, merging of batches to cut costs to cover franchise fees are a few things you will notice once you are into a batch. Do not be afraid of standing up for your rights and demanding an explanation from your institute if you don’t get what was promised to you.
Finally, even if an institute has had 1000 100%ilers, YOU will still start from scratch. The real value of an institute lies in uplifting students who have it in them but are unaware as to how to reach their target. Trust me, 100%ile is not an achievement of the institute but a reward to an individual’s hard work right from his/her formative years.
Serial CAT toppers posing as faculty members
Well, there are serial CAT toppers and there are people who pose as serial CAT toppers. The former are simply brilliant and it would be a great experience for you to even listen to them speak. These are the ones who will impact your lives by not just teaching you Euler’s coefficient and Brahmagupta’s theorem but by being there for you with brilliant advice throughout your journey and beyond.
The latter are shrewd marketers who play with the emotions of students and trick them into believing something that isn’t true at all. There is a huge difference between an MDP and a PGDM of IIM Ahmedabad so check if your faculty has done his/her flagship course from that institute or has simply been there for a week long certification programme which is essentially a pay-money-get-certified course. Also if someone says that s/he is the 3rd best ‘teacher’ on Uranus, and has difficulty naming the neighboring planets… you get the hint, right?
The next time someone tells you that s/he has scored a 100%ile in 7 consecutive CATs, ask him/her to share his/her scorecards and ask for the reason why that person did not get into an IIM. Many such fake ‘teachers’ get away because YOU don’t question their credentials and end up teaching you some amazing ‘shortcuts’ (which they have learnt watching YT vids or from other ‘experts’) that you won’t use throughout your life. Use Google wisely and see if there are any negative reviews or shady activities going around these people. If there are, stay away from these nuisances.
Mere Sir ne mera IQ 60 basis points se boost kar diya! Dhanyavad Guruji! _/\_
The material provided was incredible. The shortcuts that were taught were out of this world and X Sir is simply a rockstar. I love the way you used to motivate us and I would be grateful to you forever. (Implied xoxo <3) – Bunty/Pappu/Pinky/<insert random name>
It would surprise you as to how many people fall for this. Check out any website and you would find people praising their faculty (yeah, check our site too). While a few of them are genuine and from the heart whereas the others are scripted and fake.
Simple. Keep in mind whatever has been written, sit for a demo lecture and try to connect the two things. If there is something shady, scoot out of the class never to go there again.
Increase your score by 100 marks by listening to me take apart a simple CAT question!
Well! It’s funny how teachers make this the heart of their marketing campaigns. Partnerships sometime dictate that the conductors use such jargon and this is not to blame the people who do this but those who believe in this.
You aren’t serious, are you? If everybody boosts their score by a million marks, where would you be at the end of it? Right where you started, isn’t it?
We have 1 million questions. That way you either ace the test or become a zombie or both!
A Good Samaritan has written a nice thing on his website regarding one of the FAQs posed by an aspirant: How many kilograms of material will I get? (And he goes on the bash this mentality and I have nothing but respect for him for this). Practice till your eyes bleed has never been the answer of the question: How to get into an IIM?
A simple calculation tells us how many questions an aspirant solves in the span of a year of dedicated prep. Assuming that you start around March and prepare till around November, you will have a good 9 months of prep. You will probably solve around 25-30 mocks during this entire duration (this is for serious aspirants only; a lot do not even get into double digits), a sectional of say 15 questions once every alternate day (another tall ask), and around 15 unique questions a day throughout on an average (again, won’t happen) which amounts to a grand total of a staggering milli… wait what? 9000 questions a day. The actual figure lies way below this – a good aspirant will solve somewhere between 5000-7000 questions in a season. Solve CAT papers, take mocks, buy a preparation book <you all know which one/s>, solve sectionals, and go nuts. Whatever you do, solve 5000-7000 quality questions (roughly 2000 of them would be taken care of through your CAT papers which are available for free). Strategize well and prepare the basic concepts properly. Solving 50,000,000 questions without going anywhere with your prep won’t get you a 100. It hasn’t till now at least. Anything more than 7k is supernumerary and will not add to your knowledge or strategy (it might boost your ego by a bit but that is not really a mandate).
Bottom line, your managerial skill development starts from this very moment. Your money is pretty valuable and you are probably looking at CAT prep as an investment. It is not a gamble that you will think about after you have put in your money. Make a wise decision and make sure you have covered as many bases as possible before you invest your money and time. There are chances that you might still be disappointed but a lack of conscious effort would not be a reason behind it.
And while we are at it, here goes the mandatory advertisement.